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Death penalty case will go forward without mental evaluation

New judge hears Dickie case

POSTED: October 28, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Tom Reed/The Times

Allan Robert Dickie during a court appearance in December.

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The mental competency of Allan Robert Dickie to stand trial in his death penalty case won’t be an issue — at least for now.

Dickie, following the advice of his attorney, refused to participate in a court-ordered psychological evaluation at the Hall County jail, according to a letter to Superior Court Judge Jason Deal written by the head of forensic services for Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital.

Dickie, 20, is charged with kidnapping, rape, murder and other offenses in connection with the August 2007 death of 37-year-old Claudia Toppin, whose body was discovered with multiple stab wounds in a grocery store parking lot on Pearl Nix Parkway. Authorities are believed to have a portion of the murder documented on surveillance camera video. The state is seeking the death penalty against Dickie.

According to statements made by attorneys in a court hearing Thursday, Deal decided the defendant should be evaluated for mental competency before going forward with more pre-trial hearings in the case.

The defense objected to the court’s order, though it may yet make competency, mental illness or insanity an issue in the case.

"It is just we are not raising competency as an issue at this time," defense attorney Doug Ramseur said Thursday.

Dickie’s lawyers want Deal taken off the case, though the reasons remain unknown to the public. Several motions and orders in the case have been sealed from public view.

Stephens County Superior Court Judge E.H. "Bucky" Woods is presiding over Dickie’s case until the motion to recuse Deal is decided. Woods has not set a date to hear arguments about the requested recusal.

Woods on Thursday agreed to go forward with pre-trial motions without a court-ordered evaluation of Dickie’s competency.

Dickie’s mental state still is likely to be raised as an issue in the case. During one of his first court hearings, Ramseur indicated as much during routine procedural questioning from the judge.

Several friends of the homeless drifter from Pasadena, Md., have said he had a reputation of behaving oddly.

One acquaintance, Jay Connolly, wrote in an e-mail that "he is a very strange person — always has been. Everyone here always thought he was crazy."

A jailer testified during an earlier court hearing that Dickie claimed to be commanded by voices.

Dickie attracted attention at the Hall County jail when he or someone else tattooed a four-letter expletive in inch-high letters on his forehead. The tattoo remained visible Thursday.



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